(116) Consulting Artist

On this week’s show we speak with Consulting Artist Doug Shaw about the work he does with his corporate clients exploring ambiguity, and Matt accuses Chris of the most appalling crime.

–Transcript by otter.ai.  Included for search purposes. ———–

Matt Ballantine 0:20
Hello, and welcome to Episode 116 of WB 40, the weekly podcast with me Matt Ballantine and Chris Weston.

We meet again,

recording on a Sunday evening, it’s been a weekend of large amounts of sport. How are you Mr. Weston?

Chris Weston 0:36
A bit frazzled. Actually, there’s somebody who has been following the fortunes of the England cricket team for many a year. And who remembers getting up at silly o’clock once upon a time to listen to the last time they were in the World Cup final 27 years ago, having just essentially steeled myself with the fact that they weren’t going to win today’s game, because they were behind the eight ball for most of it. And then having gone through the last hour or so of that was I die, I think I might actually be dead. And we’re just moving around. So. So yeah, I’m pretty fascinated by you. So

Matt Ballantine 1:16
there should be an interesting podcaster one of the co-hosts is dead. I’m doing good. I didn’t watch the cricket because I I kind of understand the theory of cricket. But I’ve never really got into it. But I did watch the tennis and the men’s final was quite something and all five and a bit as it watched from about the third seconds, actually. And

Unknown Speaker 1:40
it was good.

Matt Ballantine 1:43
So yes, I feels like it almost the summer holidays are here. Now when you get to the point where Wimbledon is over and into the last week of school term. And then the madness that will be August, indeed is

Chris Weston 1:55
so good and have to do last weekend thing interesting in your professional dealings.

Matt Ballantine 2:01
There were many things. And it’s also I’ve got a load of bits and bobs where there’s some work kind of a pass kickoff. So it’s just kind of that balancing act between being able to get work that is in play done and get work that might be in play over the line. And then also being very aware that I’ve got lots of bits of holiday all over the place next couple of months as well. So it’s just a sort of the soul trades a juggling act goes into full effect again. But there’s some interesting hopefully some interesting bits coming up an organisation that I two organisations have worked before with, one of which is massive, although very UK centric. And I think the other thing is also getting my head around the idea that may be there’s a bit about how innovation is needed in organisations as a thing. But then there’s also a getting people up front, Erica, how much we actually going to invest in innovation, because one of the things I’m seeing again and again, at the moment, is organisations doing the kickoff, and then it floundering because they don’t really they want to do a thing that I want to do the long term, or they haven’t really thought about it long term. So So battling with some of that stuff at the moment as well. Oh, the other thing was, and I’m going to write some more up about this, but enterprise architecture and architecture within technology teams, why? And actually going back to basics about what might be the business value of having architectural functions within the organisation, which we’re

Unknown Speaker 3:35
starting from

Matt Ballantine 3:36
first principles is really interesting. And then talking to well renowned enterprise architects about it, and they just don’t get it because they just go Yeah, everybody does enterprise architecture, because you need to enterprise architecture. This is not a reason.

Chris Weston 3:50
So big busy, I’ve got a good done. Good video. shout about that. About how to make it enterprise such a work with agile, and it’s quite, it’s good. It really is genuinely good. So I’ll send you that. If you did have to help them out and be interesting. And yeah. Do you think that was oxygen has a place? But not in the way it’s been done in most places Really? isn’t really an IT thing. But there you go.

Matt Ballantine 4:21
Yeah, I mean, we started from the principle that actually the whole thing about architecture other than designing specific applications, actually, what’s called architecture and organisations is probably more like Town Planning and building regulations. Building control is more about being able to set some general principles, set some regulations, what you should do, and then making sure you’re not going to build something is going to burn down after five minutes, rather than being actually doing architecture architecture. And so just like the metaphor that underpins is that is not that good. And that doesn’t help because actually, everybody knows what an architect is, or it has a conception about one architecture on architect is, if you’ve got a deaf metaphor that’s being used to explain what the role is, and it’s not like that. problems can arise.

Chris Weston 5:09
I’ve had a pretty busy week, and I went up into a couple of events. This week one was about security, and it was quite good. And one was a bomb was about a diversity and inclusion, which is also good. in Birmingham, with some good presentation. So yeah, it’s been a really interesting week and busy one next week, too. So yeah. So as you say, then we get into the into the kids being off school, and then everybody so disappears in little patches don’t know, one at a time.

Matt Ballantine 5:43
Yeah, I do think it would just be easier for shots, everything for all this to just make life a lot more sensible parent has to be done. So there we go. Right. Anyway, on this week’s show, we have coming up in a moment and interview with doc Shaw, who is a consulting artist.

Unknown Speaker 6:02
And that will lead into probably a bit of a chat about ambiguity.

Unknown Speaker 6:06
Or maybe it won’t.

Chris Weston 6:10
So much, you recently talked to a chap called doc Shaw, who is consulting artist, as somebody who it seems spends time getting people out of their little sort of zones to take them on a journey into what they might be able to unleash if only they thought about things slightly differently. Is that fair?

Matt Ballantine 6:30
Yeah, I think so. It’s kind of a repairing thing. I’ve been talking to a few people in the world of creative arts, whether that’s pure art, or theatre and stuff like that, because it’s just interesting to a very different take about how people go about creating things from what happens within, you know, the average r&d department. And Doug’s interesting because he, as you will hear, he comes from quite a traditional big corporate background, and then kind of has gone into the world where he described himself as a consulting artist, he goes in, and he works with clients to bear to help them use art to bear to discover things about themselves. So to start off with, I just asked him a bit about how he managed to go on that journey.

Unknown Speaker 7:14
When I began to start working for myself, I was very interested, I still am, I’m very interested in people and relationships and what makes us tick and how we how we interact. And very quickly became aware to me that people working in an organisational construct, are often very well meaning have lots of good intent, and on the whole arrive at work each day wanting to do a good job. But very often the job and the work kind of get in the way and prevent that sort of thing from happening. There’s a extent to which people are looking for and in fact, I might even go as far so crave a degree of certainty, which simply doesn’t exist. And I think that that’s credibly harmful, because it means that we’re looking for answers that aren’t there. And we’re, we’re too willing to follow kind of set patterns of behaviour unquestioningly, because we kind of think that that will take us to where we think we ought to be going. And partly out of frustration, I began to introduce art into my work, because it offered a lens through which to invite inquiry. So I began sharing, well known artists work and just acknowledging within the conversation, that we’re all looking at the same thing, but we’re all feeling very differently about it. So we can all look at it, you know, we all can all look at an identical object or artefact, and it will invoke different thoughts and feelings for us. How might we take that acceptance and look at our work in such a such a way. And beginning it was very much about so using other people’s art and just using it as a way of starting the conversation about what it might feel like to approach things differently and do things differently. Instead, that this is the this is the thing, but we’re all feet responding to it in a in a different way. And I stuck with that for a while. And then I just was curious and wondered what would happen if we stopped abdicating responsibility for the art to the artist. And we began to include the responsibility for the art among ourselves. And so the, the invitation became less to view a piece of art, but what about creating it either separately or together. And then looking at that, and understanding how we think and feel about it, not just about the image itself that we may have created, but also the process that we’ve gone through in order to get there. And all of a sudden, the conversation kind of deepened and expanded because we’ve gone from viewing the artefact made by someone else, to co creating and creating the artefacts ourselves, which gives us a much deeper sense of what it feels like to think and act like an artist. And from there the opportunity to come a debate and discuss what our work as a product designer or a product manager, or a project manager or a head of department or whatever might feel like if we look at it through different eyes. And I mean, that’s developed over a number of years. But that’s the essence of the the crux for me. So acknowledging the art in the first place. And then for me, the real shift coming when when we in source the responsibility into the group for actually making it and appreciating it and experiencing it.

Unknown Speaker 10:29
How did you get to be able to get this insight into bringing art into organisation environments, what what came before the consulting artist,

Unknown Speaker 10:38
so before I worked my most recent property, or if that’s the correct term,

Unknown Speaker 10:46
I worked, I had a number of roles in the telecommunications company BT. And it was an interesting experience, on the whole, quite positive. But it was it was also it was quite, I experienced some quite unusual things while being in that organisational construct, which actually served me you know, things that don’t go very well at the time. And very often the things that serve you well in, in the long run, even though they they really don’t feel like it at the time. So, um, I had my first real experience of being bullied, you know, at the age of 40, something through my boss I had at the time, and it was a really fascinating experience into what it feels like to appreciate vulnerability and uncertainty when it was being inflicted on you. And you’re being kind of systematically undermined by somebody who I’m going to try and be kind here and say he was probably feeling threatened or maybe undermined and insecure in their own way. And the only way they knew how to deal with it was to kind of project it onto someone else. Anyway, so I digress. But but the the experience in between was rich and diverse. But it was also ultimately frustrating. My last sort of 10 year, if you like in that organisation with as part of the Global Services Division, which was collapsing at the time, as a result of some really terrible business decisions made by senior management, and their subsequent inability to take responsibility for those decisions meant that people like me in kind of middle and upper middle management, were really feeling the heat. And for sure, you know, we’re all part of the process, and we’re all part of the system. But I felt there was a great abdication of responsibility going on, and it was hurting me. So I wasn’t my colleagues, it was hurting customers. And eventually, I just kind of came to a point of view where I felt I had to get out of it. And so I did, and then I just continued my curiosity. So as I, as I mentioned, you right, the beginning, the thing I’ve always been interested in is people and what makes us tick and how we kind of get on together, and how we might choose to do that sort of thing differently. And in pursuing that, and skilling myself in various kind of conversational and facilitation or methods, I began to become aware of this notion that the the ambiguity of our had a place had a really useful place to fit in the kind of structure and certainty of your typical corporate environment, which as we know, when you when you touch that certainty, it shut it off and just kind of, you know, shatters and distorts and breaks. So that that’s kind of it just evolved. It felt like the right thing to do and and I desire, I suppose

Unknown Speaker 13:24
it’s interesting, isn’t that the,

Matt Ballantine 13:27
you know, for all of the talk about the Zuiker the volatility uncertainty, towards it chaos and ambiguity? And the the deal organisational responses, we must embrace the uncertain and ambiguous world around us by trying to make it certain and an ambiguous.

Unknown Speaker 13:49
Yes, well, the very notion of

Unknown Speaker 13:53
life’s full of lovely paradoxes, but the whole notion of uncertainty makes us crave certainty even more, which means that we’re looking for something that is in in diminishing quantity and what have you. So yeah, it’s fascinating. And I think that what’s really interesting is that very often, the artistic response to uncertainty is very different from the organisational response. So there are, there’s a, there’s a group of researchers and academics based out in Germany called the age of artists, and they have constructed various frameworks for looking at this kind of thing differently. And they offer a typical organisational response exactly, as you’ve just articulated, and up against it, they invite a more playful, inquiring, inquisitive model, they’re not the only people doing this kind of thing, but I find them an interesting organisation to look at. And I often use some of their work because it’s available to be used as a way of particular particularly in the corporate environment, cuz I produce things that look more like nice tidy models and boxes and things behind which sits on the madness and, and the paint and other stuff. So so it’s really interesting. Talk the notion of things like Trojan mice, and all that kind of thing. And how do you sort of sneak this thing in, if you liked at the beginning? I’m not necessarily very good at that behind me. But but but I think there is something really interesting about how you present something in a way that enables people to begin to come on that journey, rather than rather than just turn up with spray cans and paint pots in hand and scare the hell out of everybody. Because I’m not sure that’s necessarily going to achieve what we’re ultimately looking for. Yeah, there’s the

Matt Ballantine 15:34
if somebody is afraid of something. immersion therapy often actually isn’t the way we should go about it. And I was at the guy who does all the stuff around improvise ation. Keith can’t remember he said, Keith Johnston. And in his book, one of the things he talks about is actually allowing people to generally expose themselves to the things that they’re afraid of, rather than just just dropping them in at the deep end. And so being able to find ways to enable art, the through rather than it to be right today, writing.

Unknown Speaker 16:15
Yeah, I think

Matt Ballantine 16:16
is is important. So things like Lego as a creative tool, I found, actually, of all of the things I’ve used over the years, Lego is the one because it connects to so many people because a childhood. It is a creative medium, but it’s also a very logical medium. So peels, it seems to quite a broad spectrum of people, I’ve yet to find somebody who won’t engage with Lego Lego out in a way that if you get a pot of paint, paint pots out of whatever, there’ll be a resistance almost an artist, I can’t paint I’m not, you know.

Unknown Speaker 16:49
So I absolutely agree with you. And I think they’re in again, perhaps slightly paradoxically, if you can have a slight paradox is, is part of the challenge. So that very resistance is part of the problem and part of the opportunity, because it is that very resistance that stopping us doing other things differently. And so one of the fascinating things about offering an artistic perspective, is that there will be people who will resist it. And I think it’s important to, therefore to make the offer, kindly, gently and invitation Lee, it’s quite interesting how I’ll get contracted to work with an organisation. And I will talk with the people who are sponsoring me and I will explain useful ways of kind of introducing what might be about to happen so that when I arrived, people have some idea of what’s going on, the frequency with which my requests are not acted upon, is remarkable. So I will arrive at an organisation and I will be met with a sea of quizzical faces who have no idea why I’m there. And again, you know, you see, you win, that’s what happens, I think to myself, okay, it’d be interesting to see if one of the challenges of services is how we communicate with each other. And it nearly always is in those environments. Because I’ve had a dialogue with a sponsor or a group of sponsors, explained what might be a useful way to teach this kind of stuff up. That’s been agreed and, and it hasn’t substantive subsequently hasn’t been executed. So anyway, that that’s not uncommon. And it might sound like a criticism, but you know, everyone is busy. And maybe it didn’t it, that’s just the way these sort of things unfold. And then so when we come to talking about work, and how does it feel? How do we feel about it? What brings us joy? What brings us frustration, how do we more of the stuff like less of the stuff we don’t like and all that kind of thing, there can be resistance to, to even talking about that. Because we’re we didn’t know this is what we were talking about. So I’d say I don’t put pressure on people, I just invite them to have the conversation, or to sit there if they’d rather not take part or to leave the room. If they really are resisting strongly. People really do get up and go. And actually the ones who sit there reluctantly, given the time, and space will often unfold their arms over time, and then listen, and then thing that sounds interesting, I can relate to that. And then they’ll begin to get involved. And similarly with the artistic process, I don’t want people to feel compelled. It should be Invitational, and I have a really good example of working with a client last year about using art to facilitate dialogue around culture and values. And I got talking to one of the people I was working with, and this particular woman was laughing and joking with me about what a good time that she was having, and how she imagined this would all be a bit Tony heart and they’d be kind of told what to do and how to do it. And it would all unfold in a very specific way. which point I looked down at her feet, which were shoeless and topless, and she had jammed paint brushes in between their toes. And while she was talking to me, she was just making this mad abstract painting on a sheet of paper on the floor. And I just looked at her and said, Do you think Tony Hart would have thought to tell you how to do that? And silence? And then she went on? I guess, I guess no, I guess he wouldn’t have said No, and I haven’t come here today to tell you what to do. But you’re expressing yourself in a way that has meaning for you, and will find its way into this project in some way. And if the people who are sponsoring the project choose to do so they can hear your voice and see your work and understand more more about what makes you tick and what motivates you What brings you joy. I couldn’t have contrived that in a million years, it had to happen organically.

Unknown Speaker 20:36
And artistically. They’re actually even more so if you try to have engineer that you would have had utter rejection, you know, right, everybody socks off?

Matt Ballantine 20:51
Do you think there’s a problem about how we are encouraged to make a separation between our work self and not work self?

Unknown Speaker 21:00
some extent? Yes.

Unknown Speaker 21:04
And again, I think so I think there’s a there’s a, there’s a trend about this whole idea of bringing your whole self to work. And I worry enormously about that. Because there are elements of my whole self that are best kept in a very dark box, in the corner of a very dark cupboard. And so I’m not a fan of this advocating of this kind of whole self thing necessarily, but because I think it puts us in potentially in difficult situations. But I would like I’d like online people to feel more comfortable about recognising that that who they are not at work, can very good very usefully be informing who they are at work. An example a friend of mine, Mark, catching up who works for the furniture designers, Herman Miller, who were very kindly sponsored work that I’ve been involved in and done in the past, they’re they’re really good example of an inquiring, inquisitive, curious client, with the added benefit that they always pay me on time, bless them, which I mean, that could form a whole rabbit hole brand. But they’re, you know, they’re a big company. And they see the importance of the relationship with a small company like mine. But But, but I find that whole thing, really interesting. And one of the things that mark often does when when sessions begin is he will inviting people to talk about the stuff that’s going on, it’s not about work. And it’s very often a really lively conversation. And some of that conversation can then seep back into the more work related dialogue. So I think having an appreciation of what motivates us and drives us is really important. And I often will ask the question, in an artistic context, what brings you joy, and people’s artistic responses to that sort of thing is very often just very illuminating quite profound, very often quite emotional. So I think one of the things that’s really useful about using various art forms, it doesn’t have to be visual art. I mean, we can be photography, it could be vers, it could be storytelling, improv, all of those things form part of my work, that they give us an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. And I think the the emotional aspect of what’s going on comes out in the arts much more readily than it does in a more sort of typical work conversation. And that’s something that I think is really important, really powerful and really enriching.

Unknown Speaker 23:27
Sometimes, I guess, it’s about being able to have something around which you can have the conversation. So

Matt Ballantine 23:36
it’s something I use a lot, I’ve got a box of 100 random photos, and I’ll lay them out on a table and then ask people to be able to pick out photos that somehow symbolise something to them. So I’ve been using it with helping people to better understand how they might use technology better by saying, take one photo, that’s something about how you are today, and something about how it could be in 12 months time if everything went wonderfully. What that enables people to do is to think around a problem and to start to express stuff emotionally without having to talk about their emotions directly, which again, I think in a work context, people find really hard. Because it’s, again, we’re not, you know, you’re not supposed to have fun at work, you’re not supposed to be emotional at work, you’re not supposed to be, you know, the list goes on.

Unknown Speaker 24:20
He does. And I love that idea. I mean, we’re really, for me, very powerful example. So the notion of these of us the symbol of the heart, as a as an indicator of of love, or affection, or something akin to that, you know, is something that we’re all very used to it’s, it’s probably in lots of people’s most used emoji lyst, and what have you, but but you start to talk about that kind of sense of feeling in a in a conversation and very quickly in workplace context, it becomes very weird and very awkward. However, in an artistic sentence, I see lots of love being expressed through various forms, either as a symbol, or as part of what is bringing us together and giving us common ground. And if we use art as a way, as I often do with kind of drawing a vision for the future, it nearly always surfaces, along with things like sunlight, and other other things like that. So kind of things that we we need, you know, we need the sun, we need to be we need to feel loved. And and those are the things are not just nice to have their essential. And yet, yeah, they don’t. They don’t come out in your typical workplace conversation. But they do come out in your photo exchange, and they do come out in the various artistic exchanges that I facilitate. And they’re essential ingredients. As far as far as I’m concerned, at least the

Unknown Speaker 25:46
word that you’ve described so far, feels like it’s often around the the periphery in a way it you know, it’s about the culture and values and the HR stuff and the l&d stuff, one of the things that

Matt Ballantine 26:02
organisations who are good employers try to do because they see it as a value add, almost, I’m stereotyping it a bit, but you don’t I mean, on that, do you see it being used at the core of an organization’s activities, have you been brought in by clients to be able to address how they deal with customers, or how they develop new products, or

Unknown Speaker 26:24
certainly the customer experience piece have done quite a lot of work on.

Unknown Speaker 26:32
And that is a really interesting conversation to have. And I think that the way in which the customer and employee experiences sort of oscillate an orbit around and within and together one another, is a really interesting conversation, I don’t know, there are times when you can separate them, but they become very quickly becomes obvious that the two have an opportunity to kind of resonate and bounce off one another. So I find that and it’s interesting that, you know, when EPB, it takes on a more serious tone, when when it’s about customer experience, as opposed to maybe employee experience, but I think the two are very, are often very closely related. So I think that the opportunity to discuss those kinds of things is really important. I haven’t really done anything, in and around kind of product design, quite a number of workplace type engagements. So I, I did a really interesting piece in a highly regulated environment recently, where the client was looking to physically relocate, and they wanted to mentally relocate at the same time. And they want, they saw the opportunity to try and allow one to facilitate the other. And that particular organisation saw fit to bring me in to help them plan through, you know, what they perceive to be a very serious move, I mean, moving physically is quite an upheaval. And they saw the benefits of integrating the mental shift with the physical shift and bringing the behavioural shift in as well. And they saw fit to use various art forms to enable a co creation around what that might look and feel like. So you know, I think I work best with groups of people who are curious. And I readily accept that not everybody is necessarily curious, with better that kind of people like to talk about creativity and innovation, but pick away at the veneer and there’s maybe not much behind it. But I think what’s really interesting for me is that if I come from a position of what I currently use the term of being a consulting artist, were able to get to a point of whether or not this could be an interesting thing to go ahead with much more quickly than then in previous times when I consider myself to be a consultant with an interest in the arts. Because I could do lots of talking about the whole consulting process for life. And then people go, ooh, but you’re going to do you’re going to bring in it. Now it’s much more obvious to people that that part of me at my best, and therefore an opportunity to hopefully see you at your best. And so let’s see if we can find a way to work around that construct.

Unknown Speaker 29:10
And it feels like there’s a

Unknown Speaker 29:13
there are a series of things that people are resistant to,

Unknown Speaker 29:17
or scared of within that

Matt Ballantine 29:20
that are part and parcel also of an organisation becoming better able to deal with the ambiguity in the world around us to be able to innovate, to be able to be able to come up with new ideas, because it is about being able to allow people to have ways about being able to confront the unknown in a kind of meta sense. To them be able to do that, whether it’s creating a piece of art or whether it’s creating a new product or service. Yeah, no.

Unknown Speaker 29:48
I think it’s, I agree. And I’m that sort of thing, agonising and conflict Me too, I’m no different from anybody else. So I I, I find myself in situations where things may not go as well as I thought they might, very often, when I look back on it, I, you know, I look back on I tried it when I reflect on things I reflected within, within the hope that I can learn things to do to do things differently, again, in the future. But I also reflect on things and try really hard to understand what my responsibilities in that reflection. So I think one of the things that organisations don’t necessarily facilitate very well, is a reflective process that’s about responsibility. Very often, it’s about blame, you know, this thing didn’t go very well is Doug’s fault, or let’s find a way to make it successful. I find it really interesting to look at something and think I didn’t go very well, what could I have done differently in that space? What might I do differently next time. And I’ve very often that sort of thing, it leaves me feeling quite vulnerable, quite exposed. I’ve actually played with it a couple of times in organisations where I’ve seen evidence of, you know, worrying levels of dysfunctional behaviour. And I’ve kind of sat there and thought, Well, I don’t want to happen if I absorb the responsibility for people’s frustrations. And actually, very often, what happens in those kind of environments is that the more you try to absorb it, the more it gets turned on you. Again, all you can do is reflect that sort of thing back and say, Well, this is really interesting. This is what I’m feeling. This is what I’m sensing. I’m digressing slightly, but I But yeah, I find I find these sort of things. You know, really interesting. So how do we get how do we shift from from pointing blame to thinking about responsibility and being comfortable to step into a place and go? Well, I could have done that differently, or, you know, yeah, that didn’t quite go according to plan. Here’s my contribution to why that happened. Maybe we could do it differently next time. It’s hard. I mean, that’s at the very sharp end. But a lot of my work is more exploratory and forward looking. But But reflective processes are interesting. And partly, I think, if they if they’re not done well and done properly, and they create sores that continue to scratch, rather than an operation NT to accept and appreciate what’s been done before and learn from it and move on.

Unknown Speaker 32:04
And that point about being able to learn from it, but not assume best practice or any of that, we’re just

Matt Ballantine 32:14
when it comes to things about the way in which people are interacting, when it comes how one person works with another person, or worse within a group of people. The constant seeking of the best way to do things within organisations is, is I think a bit future already. Because it’s it’s all contextual, don’t give people the time and space to be able to, you know, work out how to be able to reflect and have the time to learn and inform what they do going forward, rather than just determine what they do. Going forward.

Unknown Speaker 32:47
It’s very difficult. I mean, I agree with you. And I think that’s a really important point to to highlight.

Unknown Speaker 32:54
And it

Unknown Speaker 32:56
when we are in a planning phase, that’s coming a really exciting time, because all sorts of opportunities open up. And at some point, decisions have to be made. And I think we’ve had those moments are really interesting, because when a decision gets made, it’s it become it crystallises, you know, thinking crystallises, people’s behaviour crystallises around it, and it gets set up very often, that’s when we are at our most dangerous if you like, because we’ve come with all of the other options that we considered, have fallen the way and this is the one we’re going to do. And that has to happen, and we have to get on and do it. I think the challenge then is to remain awake and alert enough to realise that actually, whilst all those other options and things seemingly are falling away, everything else that’s going on around us is continuing to change and evolve and shift. And actually, people who plan really effectively are able to recognise that the forgive the artistic analogy, but the kind of landscape if you like, has has has changed and is changing if we keep on with the plan, just regarding because we’ve spent so much time and money and effort in investing in it. And there’s a danger that those things diverged unhelpfully so I don’t pretend this stuff is easy. But I think the organisations that do this sort of thing really well are able to hold almost two distinctly different things in their minds individually and together, and yet still continue to function healthfully. And usefully, I think, art and the arts, and the kind of creative practice that you were talking about with can’t with those photo cards and other things. Those are really important things in making it easier for people to hold that dissonance and operate usefully with it.

Matt Ballantine 34:41
Do you think there are any sectors where this is easier or harder? Or is it very much down to individual organisations in a cult for specific organisations?

Unknown Speaker 34:52
I think it’s the latter.

Unknown Speaker 34:55
Mike’s I’ve never really focused on a particular sector. I’m never sure whether that’s a weakness or a strength. And it’s one of the I don’t, I don’t know, I guess, I would have to say I don’t have deep experience in a particular sector, I find myself being fortunate to work in all kinds of different environments. So that’s a very that for me, that’s really interesting and useful, because it allows me to spot similarities and differences. But what I don’t have is a sort of deep expertise of what it feels like to do this in the FinTech sector or so, you know, I have worked with people in that sector, or not in any great depth. So I’d be a bit disingenuous of metre, I think, profess to have any knowledge and experience I’m I’m thinly spread across a wide range of places and people for which I’m genuinely grateful. But But that doesn’t mean I let that depth and expertise in a specific sector for sure.

Matt Ballantine 35:55
Although I guess that the evidence that you are working across so many different actors is probably one that says it’s it’s probably more organisational than it is sector specific, specific. Otherwise, you’d find that All you ever did was telecoms or finance or whatever else. Yeah, I guess yeah. Yeah, it might also be a bit about where an organisation is in terms of its its life cycle, because I don’t know but it was, you know, a company like I don’t know who’s in on the skids at the moment Arcadia say, I’m not sure that Philip green would ever pay for somebody like you to come in anyway because he’s a bit of a tight Boston but

Unknown Speaker 36:31
and then this big decision I would have to make as to whether or not I would want to accept to work with somebody

Matt Ballantine 36:40
you know, an organisation that said that light stage of its lifestyle I can’t imagine would be going in I guess it’s more of a

Unknown Speaker 36:47
it’s a luxury is a luxury purchase for organisations. It’s a good question.

Unknown Speaker 36:54
That’s a really,

Unknown Speaker 36:55
I think, at times Yes. And at times, not so much. But I mean, that whole Arcadia thing, I love that meme of the dog, slurping the coffee while the house is on fire that you see around the place. And that’s what immediately popped into my head when you mentioned that particular organisation. And and she yet that point? I’m not sure whether or not whether I could be of any any used to them putting the putting the morality bit aside. And again, that that is a really interesting thing. You know, do I is that?

Unknown Speaker 37:30
Let’s not go there. But yeah, is that the right kind of thing to be doing?

Unknown Speaker 37:35
But I don’t I don’t know. And again, I I don’t I don’t I think it’s important. So some you’ve another something that’s really interesting and useful. And something I’m trying to get clear on. And that is, when mighty be useful for clients to look to me for some sort of support and assistance, because I think there are points in cycles where I’m probably extremely unhelpful, you know, if we let so if we let that nutcase into Arcadia now, I don’t mean me. What the hell is going to be let loose? I don’t know the answer. And equally, I think there are times, you know, when when a more when a shift that is desired rather than inflicted on us is more in the mix, then I think that’s the kind of time and space where this sort of thing can be really powerful. I’m sure there are other times too. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that anybody who tries to position themselves as being the right fit all the time, is playing a dangerous game, I think.

Matt Ballantine 38:33
Yeah, I’m very much for event context, as these things inevitably are, it’s about, you know, it would work at a certain point, and there’s almost, there’s a serendipitous element to that, as well as a tactically planned part. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 38:48
Yeah, there is. And if I if I think about the survive, if I relate what we’ve been talking about here now into a more community minded experience, I’m in I’m in the process at the moment I have, I facilitate a weekly art session in the local community. And it’s a really exciting experimental environment. And there’s lots of uncertainty and experimentation in that on a week by week basis. And yet, at the moment, it’s kind of, it’s solidifying into something a little bit more certain forum for better word, because we have a, we have a community exhibition on tomorrow night. So we’re taking all this experimentation, and beginning to curate it and put it into an environment where members of the community are going to come along and appreciate the word that other members of the community have, have made together. And separately. I’m excited, I’m excited about that. So I think I think there is there are times when when you can use this kind of thing to focus around quite a certain environment or happening. So to bring it bring it back into the corporate world, again, that might be something like a conference or a big meeting. So I quite often get asked to help facilitate commerce among large groups of people using using techniques that allow those big groups of people to talk in much smaller groups and isolate and kind of move around and provide sort of visual support that people can riff off and contribute to and play around with. So you might call that sort of individual meeting or whatever. But but there are, for me that I’m getting quite excited now. Because I said, You know, I see I’m in this world, and I see how these things kind of inform each other and Evan flow and drift from certainty and uncertainty and back again, depending on the context of the environment. So it’s a it’s an exciting place to be an at same time, often very uncertain place to be I mean, I, there are times when I kind of look and think crumbs, why don’t more people get this, why aren’t I busier? And then there are times when I’m running around like man thinking great. Yes. It’s all making sense now. But that’s the life of the freedom. So I guess.

Chris Weston 40:57
Well, thanks. But to Duke for that it was Yeah, kind of, as I said, he is somebody who is trying to get people to think slightly differently about what they do and how they do it. And I think there’s this challenge around ambiguity, isn’t it? You mentioned about how you try to embrace it a little bit rather than smash it down and pretend it doesn’t exist?

Matt Ballantine 41:21
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s an interesting thing, isn’t it that the the Luca world volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity and the, you know, it’s been well established now that the world around our immediate moat around us and the world around our organisations is not steady, it’s not stable. We don’t know what’s happening next. There’s an extent to which has always been the case. But the pace of this uncertainty seems to be stepping up a bit. And lots of organisations talk about how they want to be able to, you know, embrace this uncertainty and ambiguity, but actually, what they do is they try to embrace it by removing it, and removing uncertainty and ambiguity and ambiguity. ambiguity isn’t the same as dealing with it, because all you’re doing is trying to be able to bash stuff down, you’re trying to be able to constrain things you’re trying to be able to, effectively try to conceptualise the board in a way that you’ve just said, doesn’t exist, but we’re going to try to do it anyway. And it’s pleasing. And it’s makes people happy when the certainty in the world but it doesn’t really help very much of anything. And so when when you look at organisations who engage with people like Doug, I find it interesting as to whether it’s a little bit of a sticking plaster over the problems, or whether it is a real attempt to be able to try to extend out there, if nothing else, there people’s ability to be able to

Unknown Speaker 42:47
just deal with less

Matt Ballantine 42:50
times around them, and the different techniques that you might be able to do to try to achieve that.

Chris Weston 42:55
Yeah, I would hope that it would be around, let’s do something that is the just take people out of their normal day to day way of thinking, because that isn’t really healthy. We live in these little bubbles. And, and these I mean, there’s I talked about this, this diversity inclusion event, I went event I went to the other day, a lot of people in those situations, they talk about group thing, they talk about the fact that you get into these common ways of thinking, well that which does happen. But also if you’re in the same group doesn’t matter if you’re all from different corners of the world, or different social backgrounds or whatever. If you sit with the same group of people for a length of time, you will all start to forget about what it wants to do something different and, and to Bravo if people do this in order just to break out of that little bubble. Because we absolutely always do. And we’ve talked about this on previous podcasts, I’m sure we are trying to make me try to crack this illusion of control, we have this illusion that these people in our CRM system are going to buy from us one day, because we’re going to follow this process. And they’re going to do that. And that’s and that they’re going to put they’re going to do on that day. And that’s our sales pipeline. When actually, you’re just you can’t model that you’re just trying to work on the balance of probabilities and your and your hunch. And, and there is always ambiguity and risk, but we try to pretend that they they either don’t exist, or we can manage them, which we can only to a certain extent, is a fascinating kind of existential crisis moment for some people really, where they actually they can’t manage it. And they’ll either go through the exits into crisis, and then resign and go and live as a hermit for the rest of their life. Or they pretend it didn’t happen. You know, there’s the different ways that you can carry on after that.

Unknown Speaker 44:45
Yeah,

Matt Ballantine 44:46
it can come back to the macro political stuff going on. You know that. Sorry about that, because whatever everybody is trying to pretend is that there is going to be a strong leader who will be able to remove all this fear and doubt and just be able to crack on. And that’s going to land so bad. Because you just know that’s not what’s going to happen now is this kind of continuing state of chaos, that is self inflicted to a great extent, and there isn’t strong leadership that’s going to get us out of that. It just doesn’t work that way. But within organisations, we crave it, we want to be able to see you know, there’s a there’s a mythology about what management leadership is about, that we’re willing to be able to invest in, because it makes it feel like there is some sort of nice, sane answer to this. And we’ve all been doing this, we’ve been doing this for time immemorial, you know, the Oracle Adelphi was providing exactly the same function to the ancient Greeks is nothing new. But there’s a, I didn’t know that, actually, we need to step back and say, Okay, let’s just see if we can work through this rather than let’s look for the person who will give us all the answers. That’s the that’s the bit for me where people start

Chris Weston 45:53
to click. Yes, well, we’re all guilty, I guess at times of falling for wish fulfilment, that people have all the answers. But I really wish you hadn’t brought up the fact that our next prime minister is going to be is going to be Boris Johnson. It’s going to happen quite soon. But now I’m just depressed again after being told that to load up the cricket little cricket moment, there’s taking me out of reality for a bit and now I’m back. Thanks much. Thanks for that. All good day’s work.

Matt Ballantine 46:26
Okay, well, we’re done for another week. The week ahead is still work weeks, gold is still in busy. And we’ll we’ll see what happens on the show next week. Have an interview with somebody and the thrust of the interview is basically everything about diversity and technology. Its stem the problem,

Chris Weston 46:50
which is pretty profound idea.

Unknown Speaker 46:53
Well, we’ll see how it goes.

Unknown Speaker 46:56
anything particularly exciting you want to highlight for the weekend.

Chris Weston 46:59
I’ve got an interview on hoping to record for the podcast so that I’ll delight everybody with that soon and then move to Brussels again. Then the week so it’s always nice but otherwise no it’s gonna be going to be another another exciting and I’m watching right yeah, cuz you know

Matt Ballantine 47:18
if you said you got a job. It tells me you’re going to get a job. Good job. But it says all of it coincidental you started regularly attending Brussels. At the point I was the new me PS have started to attend

Unknown Speaker 47:36
process. Are you actually a Brexit policy me up when you think I’ve secretly joined the Brexit party? And now I do. But you haven’t seen me tweeting about the fact that how polling is that? I’ve been given a technology unable to do my job.

Chris Weston 47:51
And being asked to turn up for things

Unknown Speaker 47:53
that you may be taken under a pseudonym.

Chris Weston 47:55
I couldn’t be couldn’t. I am a Nazi artillery smog in I’m in drag. I don’t know. I know. Pretty well paid. And they they don’t have to do very much. So it’s it seems like a pretty good gig.

Unknown Speaker 48:12
Well on that bombshell.

Unknown Speaker 48:15
Have a great week. We’ll see you next week.

Matt Ballantine 48:30
Thanks for listening. You can find us at web 40 podcast. com You can follow us on twitter on wp 40 podcast and you can subscribe to us on all good podcasting platforms. leave us a review if you get a moment. We love them.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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